US billionaire Kerkorian muscles into Ford

April 29th, 2008 - 5:28 am ICT by admin  

Detroit/Los Angeles, April 29 (DPA) US billionaire Kirk Kerkorian has bought 100 million shares of car giant Ford, according to an announcement Monday, signalling his intent to get involved with improvements at the company. Since early April, Kerkorian’s private holding Tracinda Corp has bought a 4.7 percent stake in Ford. Tracinda said the move reflects confidence in Ford’s progress after it narrowed losses by 50 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, according to Bloomberg financial news service.

In addition to the $691 million for the purchase, Kerkorian intends to spend another $170 million on 20 million more shares, which would bring the total stake to 5.6 percent.

The Tracinda move into Ford was seen as support for Ford’s current leadership.

Kerkorian has a reputation in Detroit for his previous attempt to influence the running of General Motors Corp. Three years ago, Tracinda described its first investment in General Motors Corp as “strictly passive” and voiced support for its management.

Kerkorian later built his stake as high as 9.9 percent as he stepped up pressure on CEO Rick Wagoner to take bold action to transform the company that is vying to maintain its spot as the world’s largest automaker ahead of Toyota Motor Corp.

Kerkorian later sold his GM stock when GM head Rick Wagoner resisted Tracinda’s push for an alliance with Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co.

Toyota in the first quarter of 2008 came out just ahead selling 159,000 more vehicles than did GM.

In the first quarter of 2008, Ford posted a profit of $100 million last week. The company is still digging out of a record $12.6 billion-loss in 2006.

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